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  #1  
Old 5/30/12, 6:39 PM
Michael S. OMalley Michael S. OMalley is offline
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Default "open ground" on GFCI-protected circuit?

In my inspections I use a basic 3-LED tester with a gfci test button and a 3-prong grounding plug to test outlets. The readings are: 1)ok; 2)hot/neutral reverse; and 3) open ground. Recently on an inspection I found 6 duplex outlets that were protected by one GFCI outlet. When the tester was placed in each outlet and the test button pushed, the GFCI tripped and the circuit was dead. but when the GFCI was not tripped with the test button all the downstream outlets tested as "open ground." I recently had a similar situation where the GFCI did not trip when tested, and the one other outlet downstream read 'open ground." The broker told me that the client had an electrician come in and he said the downstream outlet was grounded. So is there something I don't understand about these circuits or is the electrician wrong?
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  #2  
Old 5/30/12, 7:05 PM
Jim Port Jim Port is offline
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Default Re: "open ground" on GFCI-protected circuit?

A three light tester will not trip a GFI on a 2 wire or ungrounded system.
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  #3  
Old 5/30/12, 9:50 PM
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cevans cevans is offline
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Default Re: "open ground" on GFCI-protected circuit?

You really don't know what the electrician said any more than he knows what you said, unless you spoke to each other directly. You only know what someone else, with perhaps very limited understanding, interpreted him as saying. You should always take with a grain of salt anything that is relayed to you by a third party.

It's perfectly valid to use a GFCI device on an ungrounded circuits, in order to allow use of three prong outlets. Don't try to test these with your three light tester, which relies on a ground to function. Use the manufacturer supplied test button, which does not rely on a ground to function. The ungrounded GFCI and downstream outlets should have "no equipment ground" labels affixed (the labels come with the GFCI device).
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Old 6/15/12, 8:35 AM
Michael S. OMalley Michael S. OMalley is offline
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Default Re: "open ground" on GFCI-protected circuit?

I should point out that here in New York City, BX armored cable is required for all electrical work. With this cable, if connected properly, the metal armor forms a continuous path back to the house ground. So, even if we have the older 2-prong outlets, they should be grounded, and I usually check that with a Wiggens tester to the hot side of the outlet and to the box or coverplate mounting screw.
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  #5  
Old 6/15/12, 9:22 AM
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KEVIN WOOD, CMI KEVIN WOOD, CMI is online now
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Default Re: "open ground" on GFCI-protected circuit?

It is not up to you to find the one that is grounded GFCI as there might not even be one. They are to be labeled but I never see them labeled and point this out to my client.
Also on my report is an explanation as to them being safe but not as safe as grounded GFCI.

Last edited by kwood; 6/16/12 at 6:09 AM..
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  #6  
Old 6/15/12, 9:44 AM
Joseph M. Whitt Joseph M. Whitt is offline
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Default Re: "open ground" on GFCI-protected circuit?

Quote:
Originally Posted by kwood View Post
Also on my report is an explanation as to them being safe but not as safe as grounded.
Wrong answer .



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  #7  
Old 6/15/12, 9:54 AM
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Default Re: "open ground" on GFCI-protected circuit?

Not according to my report info.
Since the GFCI can fail to trip where is the electricity going to go?
Please explain Mike as I am willing to change if evidence is presented.
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Old 6/15/12, 10:03 AM
Jim Port Jim Port is offline
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Default Re: "open ground" on GFCI-protected circuit?

If the GFI fails to trip it is remaining energized. Maybe I missed something?
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  #9  
Old 6/15/12, 10:07 AM
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Jeffrey R. Pope, CMI Jeffrey R. Pope, CMI is offline
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Default Re: "open ground" on GFCI-protected circuit?

Quote:
Originally Posted by kwood View Post
Not according to my report info.
Since the GFCI can fail to trip where is the electricity going to go?
Please explain Mike as I am willing to change if evidence is presented.
Your report info is incorrect. Failure of the GFCI will not be the result of the circuit being ungrounded. GFCI function does not require a grounded connection.

Think about it, 90% of the household items that are plugged into receptacle outlets have no equipment grounding conductor - lamps, alarm clocks, radios, etc. Without an egc, it makes no difference whether the receptacle includes a grounding connection or not.

So using the logic of your "report info," these household items are "unsafe" or "less safe" because they are not grounded.

The "electricity" doesn't need "a place to go" if you have opened the circuit. That's exactly the point of GFCI protection.



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Old 6/15/12, 10:16 AM
Joseph M. Whitt Joseph M. Whitt is offline
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Default Re: "open ground" on GFCI-protected circuit?

Quote:
Originally Posted by kwood View Post
Not according to my report info.
Quote:
Originally Posted by kwood View Post
Since the GFCI can fail to trip where is the electricity going to go?
Please explain Mike as I am willing to change if evidence is presented.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jpope View Post
Your report info is incorrect. Failure of the GFCI will not be the result of the circuit being ungrounded. GFCI function does not require a grounded connection.
Quote:
Originally Posted by jpope View Post
Think about it, 90% of the household items that are plugged into receptacle outlets have no equipment grounding conductor - lamps, alarm clocks, radios, etc. Without an egc, it makes no difference whether the receptacle includes a grounding connection or not.
So using the logic of your "report info," these household items are "unsafe" or "less safe" because they are not grounded.
The "electricity" doesn't need "a place to go" if you have opened the circuit. That's exactly the point of GFCI protection.


What Mr. Pope said!
This thought that current is seeking earth ground can be easily dispelled by looking at a two wire system that was used years ago. The current in those circuits goes to the same place it goes today, back to its source.

The use of a GFCI on a two wire circuit will open should there be a difference of .005 amps between the two conductors and will happen in .033 seconds. In a three wire circuit where there is a fault to the equipment grounding conductor that is bonded in the service equipment back to the neutral a lot of current can flow for as long as two full seconds.

Knowing this it is easy to see that the two wire circuit protected by GFCI is by far safer than the standard three wire circuits we install today without GFCI protection



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  #11  
Old 6/15/12, 12:25 PM
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Default Re: "open ground" on GFCI-protected circuit?

Mike and Jeff I do know this. what I am saying is if the GFCI fails to trip is not the power still going to go through you.
So what I am saying is the safer option is to have a three wire GFCI since there are testers for it and no tester can be used for one without a ground.
Safer in the fact that anyone can get a tester at any Home shop of there choice and test the function.
As for the ground give me the documentation of people playing around with plane copper ground to hot. The one that always gets messed with is back to neutral.
I am not an Electrician but I have seen many screw ups with the white Neutral.
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  #12  
Old 6/15/12, 12:53 PM
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Jeffrey R. Pope, CMI Jeffrey R. Pope, CMI is offline
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Default Re: "open ground" on GFCI-protected circuit?

Quote:
Originally Posted by kwood View Post
Mike and Jeff I do know this. what I am saying is if the GFCI fails to trip is not the power still going to go through you.
If the GFCI fails to trip, the power will still go through you whether it's grounded or not. The grounding wire provides no function whatsoever to equipment that does not include a grounding connection.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kwood View Post
So what I am saying is the safer option is to have a three wire GFCI since there are testers for it and no tester can be used for one without a ground.
There are several ways to test the function of a GFCI, even on an ungrounded circuit. One way is to use the internal test button on the device. I use a "ground-continuity" adapter on my SureTest.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kwood View Post
Safer in the fact that anyone can get a tester at any Home shop of there choice and test the function.
Your average homeowner will never purchase such a device, therefore, the ability to test the device externally does not make it "safer."

Quote:
Originally Posted by kwood View Post
As for the ground give me the documentation of people playing around with plane copper ground to hot. The one that always gets messed with is back to neutral.
I am not an Electrician but I have seen many screw ups with the white Neutral.
I'm not sure what you're referring to here. This has nothing to do with the function of a GFCI device.



IF YOUR INSPECTOR IS NOT USING THERMAL IMAGING, YOU'RE NOT GETTING THE WHOLE PICTURE
Jeff Pope
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(661) 212-0738
Santa Clarita Home Inspection
http://www.MyInspector.net



Last edited by jpope; 6/15/12 at 12:57 PM..
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  #13  
Old 6/15/12, 1:12 PM
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Default Re: "open ground" on GFCI-protected circuit?

Still will go on my report until I have factual proof that they are safer. BTW this is not formulated by myself it is on the Home Gauge report software.
I am sorry but I do not agree with you.

Here it is Jeff.

The GFCI outlet at the master bath is a non-grounded outlet which is currently acceptable, however, it should be labeled a non-grounded GFCI and it is not as safe as a grounded GFCI (for your information).
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  #14  
Old 6/15/12, 1:21 PM
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Michael Larson Michael Larson is offline
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Default Re: "open ground" on GFCI-protected circuit?

Quote:
Originally Posted by kwood View Post
Still will go on my report until I have factual proof that they are safer. BTW this is not formulated by myself it is on the Home Gauge report software.
I am sorry but I do not agree with you.

Here it is Jeff.

The GFCI outlet at the master bath is a non-grounded outlet which is currently acceptable, however, it should be labeled a non-grounded GFCI and it is not as safe as a grounded GFCI (for your information).
kevin, report the ungrounded outlet, that is not suitable for equipment requiring a ground, that it is GFCI protected and move on.

You are not qualified say it is safer or not safer.



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  #15  
Old 6/15/12, 1:24 PM
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Default Re: "open ground" on GFCI-protected circuit?

You are right Michael and when it is established by the Home Gauge software I am willing to change. That being said even the Electrician I did an inspection for agreed with me.
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